May - 2007

3105: Bellamy fee puts Villa bid on hold
3105: Liverpool enter full-back chase
3005: Bellamy is set for Rovers return
2905: Villa plan double raid on Reds
2905: Reds eye Malouda raid
2605: Kop dollar for Eto'o
2605: Liverpool put £12m price tag...
2505: Rafa targets double swoop
2506: Bellamy on Villa radar
2205: Benfica keen on Liverpool's Cisse...
2105: Bolton enter Hyypia race
2105: Liverpool closing in on £20m Tevez
1805: Hammers 'hoping to bag Bellamy'
1705: Gonzalez attracts Spanish interest
1705: L'OM target Cisse stay
1605: Liverpool join battle for £15m Bent
1505: Sissoko targeted by Juventus
1505: Celtic linked with Robbie Fowler
0905: Reds linked with duo
0905: Cut-price Owen could be going
0105: Pearce eyes £3.5m Cisse

MAY 31
Bellamy fee puts Villa bid on hold


Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill is cooling his interest in Liverpool striker Craig Bellamy after learning he would cost between

Bellamy could become surplus to requirements at Anfield after just one season with the Merseysiders and he was only a substitute for the Champions League final.

O'Neill worked successfully with Bellamy during a loan spell at Celtic two years ago but is not prepared to pay significantly over the odds for the Wales international.

He will instead seek better value for money elsewhere unless the Reds drop their price.

MAY 31
Liverpool enter full-back chase

Clubcall Sports

Liverpool are believed to have joined Newcastle in the race to sign Wigan defender Leighton Baines, as Rafa Benitez seeks a left back.

With John Arne Riise providing the only left-footed option at left-back, with Fabio Aurelio showing he is more comfortable in midfield, Benitez is keen to add another full-back during the close season.

Baines is a top target for Newcastle boss Sam Allardyce, but it appears Liverpool could beat the Magpies to the signing of the England Under 21 international because of problems behind the scenes.

A conflict between Sports Soccer tycoon Mike Ashley, who is set to takeover at St James', and Wigan chairman and JJB Sports founder Dave Whelan looks set to have an impact on where Baines ends up.

MAY 30
Bellamy is set for Rovers return

By Nick Smith - Liverpool Daily Post

Blackburn Rovers are set to put their pursuit of James Beattie on hold - to try to lure Craig Bellamy away from Liverpool.

Rovers were preparing a move for Beattie earlier in the week but will concentrate on landing other top targets before pressing ahead with a bid to bring him back to the club where he began his career.

And Bellamy is top of the list drawn up by Ewood manager Mark Hughes, who has overseen the Welshman’s best form of his career at both club and country level.

The price could be a stumbling block as Liverpool look to make a significant gain on the £6million that triggered Bellamy’s exit clause last summer.

But Hughes is believed to be willing to enter negotiations for a player whose 17 goals in his one season at the club played a major part in their UEFA Cup qualification.

Bellamy, however, is also set to be the subject of a bid from Aston Villa, who are in a significantly better bargaining position than Blackburn as American owner Randy Lerner continues to pledge his commitment to investing in the team during the close season.

This could also involve making a move for Harry Kewell, but the Australian is determined to see out the remaining year of his Anfield contract to prove to manager Rafael Benitez that he is worthy of a place in his rebuilding programme.

But whatever happens Benitez, currently on holiday, is close to completing the £8m signing of Lyon midfielder Florent Malouda, a deal he hopes to seal by the end of the week.

Blackburn will now wait to see how the Bellamy situation fits around their monitoring of other targets, including Beattie.

MAY 29
Villa plan double raid on Reds


Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill is set for a double raid on Liverpool with Craig Bellamy and Harry Kewell in his sights, according to reports.

The Liverpool Echo claims that Villa boss Martin O'Neill is planning to move for both Wales striker Bellamy and Australian winger Kewell in the summer.

Liverpool apparently want as much as £12million for Bellamy, but Kewell could be available at a knock-down price after injuries restricted him to just three substitute appearances last season.

Spurs are also reportedly interested in Kewell, as Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez looks to free up space and money in his squad for his summer transfer plans.

As well as having the signings of Andriy Voronin, Sebastian Leto and Lucas Leiva tied up, Benitez is chasing wingers Florent Malouda and Simao Sabrosa, as well as keeping tabs on a number of other targets.

The Echo claims that Benitez is also chasing Carlos Tevez and Roma's Brazilian winger Mancini, although those two players could cost in excess of £30million.

It is still unclear how much Benitez will actually have to spend in the summer, hence why he is planning a clearout of his squad.

Robbie Fowler, Bolo Zenden and Mark Gonzalez are already on their way out, so combined with the sales of Kewell and Bellamy, Benitez could raise around £20million through player sales alone.

MAY 29
Reds eye Malouda raid

Sporting Life

Liverpool will reportedly make a £10million bid for Lyon's French international Florent Malouda this week.

Manager Rafael Benitez held talks with owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett last week, and was reassured that he would be given the money to pursue his summer transfer targets.

And the Daily Mirror understands Malouda is near the top of his wish-list, which also includes Sevilla's Daniel Alves, Gabriel Milito of Real Zaragoza and Barcelona's star striker Samuel Eto'o.

French footballer of the year Malouda has indicated he wants his future sorted quickly while Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas insists a deal, which would cost around £10-15million, must be done by the end of June.

Malouda said: "If nothing happens from now that means the clubs who have approached me are not convinced.

"If that's the case, there is no point in leaving - I don't want to go wherever.

"If I leave it will be under the best circumstances for me and for Lyon."

One of Benitez's main complaints is the club do not move quickly enough in the transfer market, and this opportunity to swoop for Malouda will be a key indication of the American owners' willingness to live up to their word.

Benitez has said: "It is always talk, talk, talk. Nothing happens.

"There are top-class players we can sign now for a reasonable fee but we have to move quickly."

Malouda has been an integral member of the Lyon side that has won six successive Ligue 1 titles and he's also established himself in the national team.

Benitez is planning a significant overhaul of the club, which suffered defeat in the Champions League final last week, and the likes of Craig Bellamy, Sami Hyypia, Harry Kewell and John Arne Riise could join Robbie Fowler, Mark Gonzalez, Bolo Zenden, Jerzy Dudek and Scott Carson as surplus to requirements.

This clear-out would free up extra funds for six or seven new players of which Malouda is expected to be one.

However the Reds will face competition from Europe's biggest clubs with the 26-year-old winger linked with Juventus, Chelsea and Manchester United in the past.

MAY 26
Kop dollar for Eto'o

By David Maddock - Daily Mirror

Liverpool's American owners are ready to show their commitment to manager Rafa Benitez by funding a move for Samuel Eto'o.

Stung by criticism from the Anfield boss, they will also put their hands in their pockets to agree deals for top internationals Gabriel Milito and Daniel Alves within the next few days.

Benitez said after the Champions League Final that he is sick of "talk, talk, talk" at the club, with nothing ever getting done, and implied that it could force him to walk away.

But the billionaire owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks aim to show they will usher in a new, dynamic era, by offering decisive intervention in the transfer market.

The biggest signal of their intent will be a move for Eto'o when the Spanish season is completed within the next fortnight, with Gillett insisting last night: "We will back the manager completely - if he said he wanted to buy 'Snoogy Doogy', we would back him."

The Eto'o deal will cost in excess of £30million, but Liverpool would fund it by offering Spanish international Xabi Alonso in part exchange, with the midfielder stalling over a new contract.

Barcelona would be reluctant to release their brilliant Cameroon striker, but he has been unhappy at the Nou Camp over the past year, and if they fail to lift the Spanish title this season, they may decide to cut their losses.

Barca boss Frank Rijkaard is an admirer of Alonso. The sale of Eto'o could both generate funds for team rebuilding and provide Rijkaard with the defensive midfielder in Alonso that he so desires.

Eto'o had a very public falling out with Barca's talisman Ronaldinho, and he hinted earlier in the season that he would consider leaving at the end of the current campaign. He is probably the biggest-name striker in world football at present, and would fit Benitez's idea of a hard-working forward who can create chances as well as exploit them.

The Americans would love nothing better than to bring in a huge star to give them a real publicity coup in their first venture in the transfer market.

MAY 26
Liverpool put £12m price tag
on Bellamy to lead Anfield exodus

By Andy Hunter - The Independent

Liverpool's efforts to meet the transfer demands of their manager Rafael Benitez have produced an ambitious £12m price tag on the head of Craig Bellamy, the Wales international striker expected to lead an exodus of players from Anfield this summer.

Aston Villa, West Ham and Blackburn are all in the market for the 27-year-old forward, who is surplus to requirements at Liverpool after struggling to adapt to Benitez's rotation policy, but have been stunned to discover his value has doubled after one disappointing season on Merseyside.

Liverpool capitalised on a release clause in Bellamy's contract with Blackburn last summer that stipulated he could join any Champions League qualifying club prepared to pay £6m, yet, while that fee was below the market value for the player at the time, his subsequent performances have done little to justify their opening negotiating position. In 23 Premiership starts Bellamy scored seven goals for Liverpool last season, compared to 13 goals in 22 League starts at Ewood Park the previous campaign.

A £12m asking price reflects an understanding of the wealth available at Villa Park and Upton Park this summer, where respective owners Randy Lerner and Eggert Magnusson are expected to spend heavily, although it puts Bellamy beyond the budget of his former club Blackburn. It also signals Liverpool's intent to maximise the revenue available to Benitez this close season, one the Spaniard heralded as pivotal to the club and his own future at Anfield in a challenge to co-chairmen George Gillet and Tom Hicks following the European Cup final defeat to Milan this week.

Bellamy would yield a higher profit than many of the players Benitez is prepared to offload this summer. Bolo Zenden, Robbie Fowler and Jerzy Dudek are all free agents, while Mark Gonzalez is close to completing a cut-price move to Real Betis 12 months after his £4.5m arrival from Albacete, although the Liverpool manager is open to offers for several more.

MAY 25
Rafa targets double swoop

Clubcall Sports

Rafa Benitez has targeted West Ham's Carlos Tevez and Palermo's Brazilian striker Amauri as he bids to strengthen his Liverpool squad.

It is understood the pair are the first players the Reds boss has earmarked in what is expected to be a summer of big spending at Anfield.

Tevez, who is set to leave the Hammers after helping them avoid relegation, has been linked with the Reds for some time where he would team up again with fellow Argentinian Javier Mascherano.

26-year-old Amauri is also believed to be on Benitez's list and could be available for less than £5million. The Brazilian has hit eight goals in just 18 Serie A appearances this season and has attracted attention from several sides across Europe after some impressive displays.

Benitez has urged new American owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks to back him in the transfer market this season and has warned players need to be brought in as soon as possible if the Reds are to mount a realistic title challenge next term.

MAY 25
Bellamy on Villa radar

By John Curtis - PA Sport

Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill is set to step up his interest in signing striker Craig Bellamy if he becomes surplus to requirements at Liverpool.

The Welsh international forged a good relationship with O'Neill during a successful loan spell at Celtic two-and-a-half years ago.

And O'Neill would welcome the opportunity to work with the player on a long-term basis should speculation that Reds boss Rafael Benitez is ready to off-load the player after just one season prove correct.

Bellamy, who is also attracting interest from Blackburn, has struggled to hold down a regular place and was an unused substitute during Wednesday's Champions League final against AC Milan in Athens.

O'Neill, with the substantial financial backing of club owner Randy Lerner, will firm up his interest if it becomes established Benitez is ready to show Bellamy the Anfield exit door.

MAY 22
Benfica keen on Liverpool's Cisse for Simao


Benfica are ready to discuss a potential swap with Liverpool involving Djibril Cisse and Simao Sabrosa.

Reds chief Rick Parry admitted last month that Simao remained a target for manager Rafa Benitez and it's understood they have already informed Cisse about the prospect of him moving to Portugal in part-exchange.

Benfica are keen on the deal, with strikers Nuno Gomes, Derlei and Fabrizio Miccoli all leaving this summer. Simao earlier this season penned a deal through to 2012, but is prepared to leave Benfica should the right offer arrive.

Portugal's DN says Cisse is also open to moving to Lisbon, though it's understood would prefer to pursue his career in England next season.

MAY 21
Bolton enter Hyypia race

World Wide Wanderers

Bolton Wanderers are in the race to sign Liverpool defender
Sami Hyypia.

According to the Daily Mail newspaper, the 33-year-old Finnish international will hold talks with Liverpool about his future after Wednesday's Champions League final against AC Milan, but is expected to leave Anfield.

Manchester City and Newcastle United are also interested in signing the commanding central defender.

MAY 21
Liverpool closing in on £20m Tevez

By John Richardson - Daily Express

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez wants to splash a large part of his club’s Champions League cash on West Ham’s controversial striker Carlos Tevez.

Benitez believes he holds a powerful bargaining tool – as Tevez’s former Corinthians and West Ham team-mate Javier Mascherano is already at Anfield.

While the row over who actually owns Tevez rumbles on and could still affect the Premiership relegation situation, Benitez is quietly making his move for the brilliant Argentinian.

Real Madrid and Inter Milan have also been linked with Tevez but that hasn’t put Benitez off.

He has been promised substantial backing this summer from joint American owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks while his side’s amazing run to a second Champions League final in three seasons has helped fill club coffers.

Tevez could cost £20million and Liverpool will step up their discreet moves to land him after Wednesday night’s final in Athens against AC Milan.

They are ready to wrap up a £12m move for Mascherano and want to make it an Argentine double.

MAY 18
Hammers 'hoping to bag Bellamy'


West Ham are resigned to losing Carlos Tevez to a top Spanish club in the summer - and could replace him with Liverpool's Craig Bellamy.

Tevez's end-of-season form was a crucial factor in the Hammers' great escape from the Premiership relegation trap door.

But the 23-year-old Argentina ace's days at Upton Park look numbered, with a switch to the Primera Liga widely expected in the coming weeks.

Real Madrid are leading the chase for Tevez's services, and attention in the East End has already turned to his successor in Alan Curbishley's forward line.

And chairman Eggert Magnusson has reportedly earmarked Bellamy as the man to maintain the Hammers' attacking zest.

The Reds could be tempted to part with the Wales international, 27, especially as Magnusson is prepared to hand Rafael Benitez a £2million profit on top of the £6million he paid to Blackburn last summer.

MAY 17
Gonzalez attracts Spanish interest

By Chris Bascombe - Liverpool Echo

Mark Gonzalez could be heading for a swift return to La Liga after the Champions League final as a host of Spanish clubs are showing interest in the winger.

The 22-year-old Chilean has struggled to make an impact in the Premiership following his arrival from Real Sociedad last summer.

There were high hopes the South American would solve Liverpool’s long standing problems on the left of midfield, but despite countless opportunities, it’s been an erratic debut campaign in England.

Now Real Betis are believed to be among those showing an interest in taking the youngster back to Spain, where he originally shone for Albacete, prompting his much delayed £2.5m transfer to the Reds.

Manager Rafa Benitez has been pondering whether to allow Gonzalez to leave or give him one more chance to shine next season.

Benitez is weighing up whether the Chilean will have benefited from his first season at Anfield and can massively improve, or whether the last eight months are a sign he’s not up to the level of a club of Liverpool’s size.

It’s a sign of how Gonzalez has missed his opportunities when long term absentee Harry Kewell seems to have moved above him in the battle to win a place on the bench in Athens.

MAY 17
L'OM target Cisse stay

By Patrick Haond - Sky Sports

Marseille are reportedly looking into the possibility of keeping Djibril Cisse on loan for a further year.

Despite many critics and some difficult periods during his time at the Stade Velodrome, the French striker has scored 14 goals this season.

Marseille have the option to buy Cisse from Liverpool for €12million (£8.2million), but are unwilling to pay such a fee.

A reduced price of €7million (£4.8million) is a possibility, but an extension of his loan deal is the most likely option.

Marseille chairman Pape Diouf is waiting to begin talks with Liverpool and aims to have Cisse's future sorted soon.

"Liverpool are preparing for the UEFA Champions League final, and we are in the final run of Ligue 1," Diouf told L'Equipe.

"We all want to start talks after those key periods. We want to know more about next season, which could affect our future choices."

MAY 16
Liverpool join battle for £15m Bent

Daily Mail

Charlton have put a £15million price tag on Darren Bent after Liverpool entered the race to sign the England striker.

Tottenham and West Ham are also in the running for the 23-year-old, who is understood to prefer a move to White Hart Lane.

Charlton are determined to get as much money as they can for Bent and are adamant they won’t be bullied into selling him on the cheap even though they have been relegated to the Championship.

Spurs have been linked with a £10m bid for Bent, while West Ham have reportedly offered £12m, but neither offer is close enough to Charlton’s asking price.

They hope Liverpool’s interest will begin a bidding war that will see the price reach or even go above £15m, especially as they turned down an £18m bid from West Ham in January.

Anfield boss Rafael Benitez is looking to sign another striker having already released Robbie Fowler while Dirk Kuyt, Peter Crouch and Craig Bellamy have not been prolific enough this season. Kuyt was the club’s top Premiership scorer with 12 goals, followed by Crouch with nine and Bellamy with seven.

By contrast, despite missing part of the campaign through injury, Bent scored 13 of Charlton’s 34 goals as they fought in vain to avoid the drop.

By contrast, despite missing part of the campaign through injury, Bent scored 13 of Charlton’s 34 goals as they fought in vain to avoid the drop.

That has impressed Benitez, who spent lavishly on his forward line last summer, splashing out £10m to sign Kuyt from Feyenoord and £6m on Bellamy from Blackburn.

The manager has been promised money to spend following the takeover by Americans Tom Hicks and George Gillett so he can turn the club into genuine challengers for the Premiership next season.

MAY 15
Sissoko targeted by Juventus

Clubcall Sports

Juventus have reportedly targeted Liverpool's Mohamed Sissoko in the summer as Torsten Frings appears set to stay in Germany.

The Old Lady appear set for a quick return to the top flight, after being demoted last season for their part in the match-fixing scandal, and are looking to strengthen their ranks in order to compete for the title next year.

Juve's first choice midfield reinforcement had been Torsten Frings but the Germany international is set to stay in Germany after extending his deal at Werder Bremen earlier this week.

Now the Bianconeri have turned their attention to Sissoko, who was a player targeted by coach Didier Deschamps last November.

The 22-year-old faces a tough battle for a regular starting place at Anfield with Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano already in the squad, while Brazilian starlet Lucas Pezzini is expected to arrive in the summer.

MAY 15
Celtic linked with Robbie Fowler

Vital Football - Celtic

Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler has been linked with a move to Scotland, with Celtic and Rangers both rumoured to be interested.

The 32-year-old will leave Anfield for the second time at the end of the season - though his career has seemingly been on the slide since he first left in 2001.

While there is no doubt a young Robbie Fowler would be a welcome addition to practically any squad on the planet, his pace and sharpness has long since left him, so perhaps he would fit in well with the other old-timers at Ibrox.

Of course, Fowler could decide to move to any club, anywhere, as a large proportion of his income comes from his off-the-pitch dealings. A season in the MLS, a league that will surely be given a boost by the arrival of former England skipper David Beckham, could provide Fowler with a perfect swansong.

But whatever happens, hopefully Celtic boss Gordon Strachan will realise that while Fowler was one of the most devastating finishers in the world - and truly deserves his legend moniker - the time to bring him to Parkhead was six years ago, not now.

England international and celebrity giant Peter Crouch, however, could provide Celtic's attack with something different and, with Liverpool set to bring in more strikers in the summer, perhaps a permanent or temporary deal could be thrashed out between the clubs.

Reds linked with duo

By Peter ORourke - Sky Sports

Liverpool are being linked with a double swoop for Palermo's Amauri and Real Zaragoza's Gabriel Milito.

The Reds have held a long-term interest in the pair and reports suggest they could make a move for the duo in the summer.

Liverpool chief Benitez is busy planning for next season and he is set to be handed a substantial transfer kitty by American owners to Tom Hicks and George Gillett to build a team capable of challenging for the Premiership title.

Benitez is widely expected to bring in a new striker and Palermo's Brazilian-born hit-man Amauri could be one of his top targets.

Amauri's agent Mariano Grimaldi claims Benitez is a big admirer of Amauri, but says they could face a fight for his signature with a number of other clubs tracking him.

"Benitez is an admirer and considers him to be the best striker in Europe along with Didier Drogba," Grimaldi told The Sun.

"However, Liverpool are not the only ones after Amauri. There are offers coming from several clubs.

"But Liverpool have kept an eye on him for quite a while now."

Liverpool have been chasing Milito for some time and they failed in a bid to land him two seasons ago.

However, the Argentine international has opened the door for Liverpool to rekindle their interest in him by suggesting he would be interested in a switch to Anfield.

Reports emanating from Spain suggest Liverpool are ready to offer Mark Gonzalez plus money to try and persuade Zaragoza to do business for Milito.

"This is my opportunity to join a big club in Europe," Milito is quoted as saying in the Mirror.

"Liverpool have a Spanish coach, which is very important for me."

Cut-price Owen could be going


Michael Owen could be on his way out of Newcastle after it emerged a £9million release clause will kick in at the end of the season.

According to reports in Wednesday's newspapers, the England striker's contract states that he can leave the club for a cut-price transfer fee if the Tyneside club fail to qualify for Europe.

The clause was included as part the deal which brought Owen to St James' Park in a £16million move from Real Madrid in August 2005 and will be activated by Newcastle's lowly Premiership finish this season.

Toon chairman Freddy Shepherd admitted when he signed Owen that clauses were included as part of the deal, saying: "Of course Michael has clauses in his contract. In this day and age, all top players do."

And if former Bolton boss Sam Allardyce is named as Newcastle's new manager in the next few days, then one of his first tasks will be to persuade the hitman to pledge his future to the club.

Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea are all thought to be monitoring the situation and would be able to offer Owen Champions League football and a more realistic chance of winning silverware.

But Newcastle are hoping the striker will remain loyal to the club after playing only 12 games for them in two injury-plagued seasons on Tyneside.

Owen, who still has two years to run on his contract, has recently expressed guilt at being unable to help Newcastle in their quest for honours during his time in the North East.

He said: "For the first hour when I did my cruciate, my first feeling was one of guilt, to the chairman and the fans and even down to the people who sponsor your boots and invest so much in you.

"I'm one of those people who feel sorry for others before they think of themselves. Hopefully I can make up for lost time."

But it remains to be seen if Owen will stay with the underachieving Magpies if one of the Premiership's heavyweight sides comes calling over the summer.

Pearce eyes £3.5m Cisse

Daily Mirror

Stuart Pearce is ready to make a £3.5million summer swoop for Liverpool flop Djibril Cisse.

Manchester City boss Pearce has drawn up a hit-list of targets to boost his Eastlands squad, despite fears for his future due to the current takeover battle for the club. And he sees French striker Cisse as the man to end the club's goalscoring nightmare.

City have netted just 10 goals in 18 home league games this season - one short of Sunderland's all-time Premiership record.

With strikers Darius Vassell, Bernardo Corradi, Georgios Samaras, Paul Dickov and Emile Mpenza netting just 16 between them this term, Pearce is desperate to land Cisse.

The 25-year-old, who cost Liverpool £14m from Auxerre three years ago, is due back at Anfield this summer after spending the season on loan at French outfit Marseille.

Thor Zakariassen ©